The May Queen started Kindergarten today. Yes, yes, I know. It is hotter than hell and still the middle of summer. But not in Louisiana. Well, it is in Louisiana, too, but it is also back to school time.
I've written before about how we fought to get The May Queen into kindergarten this year, and how I struggled over the summer with this decision. Yesterday I watched her bare little body picking out clothes from her closet and marvelled, could this little body, this baby, be starting kindergarten? Later I looked at her feet in her sandals and saw her baby feet. Surely those feet could not stand on their own in kindergarten.
The May Queen was excited. We had her uniform set out for the next day. I decorated her school bag with her name, flowers, and a giraffe (her favorite animal!). I made a cover for her nap mat out of an old sheet (I'm so domestic! And thrifty! I'll be up for mother of the year!). She picked her colorful blanket to take with her for rest time. She even asked if she could take Teddy along, as she couldn't sleep without him (I doubted her ability to nap at all, as she gave napping up a full 2 years ago, but kindergarten is a full day -7 hours!- and rest time is mandated by the state) . I told her we would put him in her bag, and ask her teacher in the morning.
This morning I had set my alarm so that I could get up in time. School begins at 8am and I am not a morning person. I got up, grumpy, as I had not slept well since MQ crawled into bed with us sometime around 1, and appx. every hour on the hour after that I woke up with a knee in my back. I could have moved her, I suppose, but in the middle of the night I don't always think of these things.
As I was taking my shower she woke up and went downstairs with her daddy, who got her a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Then she appeared in the bathroom, crying. It hurt when she swallowed. Could my baby be sick? On her first day of kindergarten! No! I joined them downstairs, and we tried softer foods. Pancakes. More tears. A bowl of applesauce. More tears. I looked down her throat with the trusty hippo flashlight. It looked like she had scraped her throat with that first bite of cereal. Otherwise, she had no other symptoms. We decided she was not sick. As we started getting dressed, she began coughing hard, painful coughs. Forced coughs. And she cried. I held her in my lap and asked what was wrong. She just cried and coughed. My husband looked on, helpless. This is not usual behavior for our May Queen, who was just yesterday leaping about talking all about her new school and her new teacher. I told her I would wait until she calmed down. When she did, I asked her if she was nervous, and she said she was. We talked a little bit about what it would be like, what might happen. She started to get dressed. She started to smile. Then she worried she would cry at snack time. I told her that mouths heal very fast, but that if she thought it would hurt, to just say she wasn't hungry. She nodded, seriously. She could do that. By the time we finished getting her dressed she was happy, ready to go.
OK, not quite THIS happy. This picture was taken AFTER school. She refused to have her picture taken before school. It was a battle I chose not to fight
When we arrived at school the children were lining up with their classes in the gym. It is a small, private school, and today in the kindergarten class only the girls were there. MQ went easily and sat by her teacher while I went and stood at the edge and watched. She got a name tag. She stood and said the morning prayers, the pledge. Then she followed the teacher back to the room. We parents were invited to help them get their things into their cubby, and say goodbye. MQ took the bag with her mat and blanket from my hand. "I'll carry this" she said. She put her things away. She walked right up to her teacher and asked if she could bring out Teddy at nap time ("of course"). And she walked into her classroom. I had to call her back out to give me a hug.
I was so worried this morning. I had never seen my baby behave that way, so scared, so unable to say what was wrong. I worried I was pushing her. I debated crawling back into bed with her, calling in sick. Spending the day coloring and playing and tickling. But that big girl at school? The one who ran into the room without a backwards glance at me? That's the girl that I know will thrive in kindergarten. I wasn't quite prepared for how quickly it would happen this morning... that one moment she would be this baby by my side, and the next she would be walking eagerly away from me. I wanted to take some more time to linger. To see her new classroom. To make the transition. But she needed to do that without me.
Go ahead and jump right in, baby. The sky is the limit.
Don't mind me. I'll just cry quietly on the way home.
(As you can imagine, she had a wonderful first day of kindergarten. She even slept during nap time. When she came home, we invited the neighbors over to enjoy that delicious pencil cake.)